Written by Jonathan Wojcik
TODAY: THE BOOK OF FIENDS!
THE BOOK OF FIENDS!
Compatible with third edition Dungeons and Dragons, The Book of Fiends by third party developer Green Ronin boasts on its back cover that "We've got your Vile Darkness Right here!" And if a book could gesture lewdly towards its genitalia, you can be sure this one would. Focusing on demons, devils and the forces of hell, the Book of Fiends is everything ridiculous about the Book of Vile Darkness amped up to levels of grimdark even Games Workshop wouldn't touch with a ten foot chainsword. If you got all that, congrats on being even lamer than me, because I only barely understood the joke I just made.
Like the D&D fiends review from last year, we're going to count down my personal picks for the top thirteen...coolest? No. It's kind of hard to approach these as "cool" with a straight face. Scariest? Even harder. Funniest? Well, that's a matter of taste. They're funny to me, but some of them might warrant a handful of trigger warnings for the rest of you. Let's just say these are the Top Thirteen Most "Book of Fiends" Fiends, and leave it at that.
The Enveloper of the Innocent
To kick things off, here's an amorphous mass of muscle tissue and acid-dripping sores engulfing a naked woman in what appears to be ecstacy, with a name like Enveloper of the Innocent and an ability called "Metabolize Good" that does exactly what it sounds like. The Enveloper of the Innocent "eats goodness" and leaves its victims evil. I wanted to show this first, because it perfectly sets the tone for the entire book. Boy are you in for some fun.
Hell's circle of Gluttony is apparently dominated by the huge, flabby body of a demon called Yungo and his many bloated servants, constantly eating, excreting and re-eating the damned. Aiding in their unnatural digestive processes are spidery, finger-length Feasting, essentially demonic gut fauna living within Yungo's cavernous intestines. This is actually some pretty cool speculative demonic biology.
The Whore's Curse
Also called a "Raptu," this little cutie is just one fiend in the book that also qualifies as a sexually transmitted disease. Joy. Latching onto a host like a sexy little tick, she injects a batch of several hundred eggs into anyone the host makes love to, almost all of which just hatch into very large flesh-eating spiders. The text takes special care to mention that the demon can be seen "writhing in ecstacy" pretty much all the time. It also opens with the curious line "More like a parasite than a monster." I didn't know the two were mutually exclusive.
I sincerely love the design and name of this bug-eyed cycloptic mollusk, though it's actually pretty vanilla for this list, even considering the phrase "genital maw" used more than five times in its description. If you're bitten by the Chernobue's "genital maw," your body subsequently "erupts in an explosion of orange discharge" but you don't necessarily die. You just permanently lose a huge chunk of your charisma stat (meaning you are now grosser and less pleasant to others) and fall unconscious for a while. When you come to, you then break out in "leaking boils, similar in appearance to the chernobue's genital maw." You remain this way indefinitely, unless you can get hold of some powerful healing magic.
It bites you with its junk and you explode. Then you're okay, but you're ugly. Thanks, Chernobue.
The Vessel of Orcus
While not technically a Dungeons and Dragons supplement, the Book of Fiends makes reference to many known D&D figures, including the demon god of the undead, Orcus. In official materials, Orcus has plenty of his own unique underlings and offspring, but none were apparently hardcore enough for Green Ronin's tastes. The Vessel of Orcus is a giant, man-shaped bag of sewn-together human faces completely stuffed to bursting with monstrous, flesh-eating maggots. Of course the faces are still conscious. Did you even have to ask?
Malohin The Strangler
This is another one that I just plain like, his face very accurately resembling a star nosed mole, sans hair, which is something I've patterned far too many monsters on myself. Add huge, sinewy, taloned arms and creepy stork legs and you've got a pretty damn disturbing design for a "Demon Prince of Murder." A Demon Prince of Murder who was apparently banished from Hell with his memory erased. Now, the slobbering mole-stork wanders from town to town, taking over the bodies of children and aimlessly slaughtering the innocent as he searchers for clues to his lost identity.
This one isn't even funny. It would just make a legitimately kick-ass horror villain. A little boy goes ballistic for no apparent reason, stabs his whole family to death, burns down every house on the block, and a slavering mole-chicken just tears out of his skin and leaves? That's the kind of thing I dream of a chance to witness.
In a movie.
Yeah. A movie.
The damned souls of the envious are apparently fed to a demonic entity known as Ulasta, after which their excreted remains are sculpted by demons into crawling fleshy crocopotamus-starfish to "beautify their realm." I didn't realize demons and I had so many decorative sensibilities in common. Lacking a soul, the Confithish devours every living thing it can gets its stubby pseudopods on, pooping out their skeletons into an ever-growing pillar of tangled, pooped skeletons. Again, like they just read my mind.
The Book of Fiends describes the Circle of Lust as an eternal, violent orgy of depraved, violent sex acts between demons and the damned in every possible combination of gender, orifice and level of consent, or in other words, what goes on in the back alley of my imagination 24/7. Either spoiling or improving the fun, according to your perspective, are the Uncs that gestate within anyone (or anything) impregnated by the circle's demonic overlord. These foot long jellyfish-sperm-lampreys are covered in hooks facing exactly the way you don't want them to face, and once they've wriggled loose from one body, they fly off in search of another to worm their way inside. Eventually, they mature into Vlogar, horny frog-like demons with remarkably unsettling faces, who just turn right around and sexually assault their own parents, because the Book of Fiends has got your "Vile Darkness" right here!
This lovely little gluttony demon is one of those rare monsters to actually make me a little sick, but it's in the most wonderful way. It specializes in producing the four classical "body humours" - blood, phlegm, green bile, and yellow bile. When it encounters human prey, it locks lips with the poor bastard and force feeds them one or more of these contents until they're horrendously bloated with its mucus and puke. Only then does it straight-up eat its victim, apparently preferring a rich, creamy filling of its own secret sauces.
I love these guys! With their triple eye stalks, petal like armor plating and huge heads behind their tentacled, polypous bodies, they look appropriately alien for demonic geniuses. The Kurgellis are so smart, in fact, that they're positive they're the smartest beings in the entire universe, and keep watching over the mortal world for anyone who dares challenge their title. If you think you know everything, the Kurgellis will secretly set you up to fail at something, maybe even something fairly inconsequential, just to take you down a peg and teach you that you're only human. Is that even really evil? It seems more like we could really, really use these guys once in a while. Or all of the time. The only downside is that they're just as likely to completely ruin someone's life, torture them or get them killed, but if their targets think they're better than everyone else to begin with, we probably didn't need them anyway.
Even cuter than the Kurgellis, The Languishing are demons of Sloth who exist just to punish the chronically unhappy, which really was regarded as a sin of Sloth in Dante's Inferno. We're talking people who could easily find something to be happy about, but just can't be bothered. People who give in to self pity and pessimism until they just don't care about anyone or anything else. People Eeyore would call insufferable crybabies. When these saddest of sad sacks catch the attention of The Languishing, the demon actually feels so badly for them, it cuts itself. Really. That's what it says. It watches over, obsesses over and romanticizes the most miserable wretches until it just can't stand to sit idly by anymore and drags them back to hell, devouring everything but their still-conscious heads. These is treasures forever, keeping them safe in a cute little pile of sad, severed heads, like a big mommy chicken that lays sad, severed heads.
Oh yes, this is called a "Vilisemen," and oh yes, it's as bad as you think. Classified as both an "ooze" and a "swarm," the Vilisemen is literally a puddle of spunk harvested by demons who magically "awaken" its "potential," creating a puddle of spunk possessed by the angry spirits of the children it could have been. Oh yes, they're driven by a hunger to be born. Oh yes, the result is only ever a chest-bursting demon. Oh no, you know they aren't restricted to a female host.
Let's take a moment to really relish what we're seeing here. A crawling puddle of demonic spooge, haunted by hypothetical babies. Hypothetical babies. Those are hypothetical babies crawling into some asshole's ear because they want to be born. Real people conceived, developed, wrote, illustrated and published a bukkake monster puppeted around by ghostly fetuses angry that they never existed. I don't even know what else to say. I have no idea how to end this gracefully. You know what? I registered to vote, and I never got my Voter's card back in the mail. I could be voting right now, for Obama, because his policies have consistently benefited me and I don't care about the rest of you, but instead I'm describing what somebody else wrote in a gaming book about a crawling cumstain from the abyss.
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